Some early panoramas of the burn itself

While it will be a while before I get the time to build all my panoramas of this year's Burning Man, I did do some quick versions of some of those I shot of the burn itself. This year, I arranged to be on a cherry picker above the burn. I wish I had spent more time actually looking at the spectacle, but I wanted to capture panoramas of Burning Man's climactic moment. The entire city gathers, along with all the art cars for one shared experience. A large chunk of the experience is the mood and the sound which I can't capture in a photo, but I can try to capture the scope.

This thumbnail shows the man going up, shooting fireworks and most of the crowd around him. I will later rebuild it from the raw files for the best quality.

Shooting panoramas at night is always hard. You want time exposures, but if any exposure goes wrong (such as vibration) the whole panorama can be ruined by a blurry frame in the middle. On a boomlift, if anybody moves -- and the other photographer was always adjusting his body for different angles -- a time exposure won't be possible. It's also cramped and if you drop something (as I did my clamp knob near the end) you won't get it back for a while. In addition, you can't have everybody else duck every time you do a sweep without really annoying them, and if you do you have to wait a while for things to stabilize.

It was also an interesting experience riding to the burn with DPW, the group of staff and volunteers who do city infrastructure. They do work hard, in rough conditions, but it gives them an attitude that crosses the line some of the time regarding the other participants. When we came to each parked cherry picker, people had leaned bikes against them, and in one case locked a bike on one. Though we would not actually move the bases, the crew quickly grabbed all the bikes and tossed them on top of one another, tangling pedal in spoke, probably damaging some and certainly making some hard to find. The locked bike had its lock smashed quickly with a mallet. Now the people who put their bikes on the pickers weren't thinking very well, I agree, and the DPW crew did have to get us around quickly but I couldn't help but cringe with guilt at being part of the cause of this, especially when we didn't move the pickers. (Though I understand safety concerns of needing to be able to.)

Anyway, things "picked up" quickly and the view was indeed spectacular. Tune in later for more and better pictures, and in the meantime you can see the first set of trial burn panoramas for a view of the burn you haven't seen.


I have also been fascinated by the 360 QTVR Panoramas done by Peter Murphy:

some at night with people. I haven't been able to determine how he does these. I don't know if you have seen these?

Any idea on what techniques he uses (yes I have asked outright with no response) -- equipment (lens, tripod jigs or ..?), software?

What equipment do you use? Do you use a nodal correction setup on your tripod? What lens(es)?

(BTW I remember meeting you -- sometime in the early/mid 80's -- I think you were working on a Pascal compiler/interpreter for the (Ontario) ICON computer?)

If it doesn't say on his web site, I would have no knowledge of his particular technique. I have done several myself. Yes, you want a panorama head (day or night) though for night a stable one is important.

A fast lens is nice but of course if you need depth of field you can't really use it and must take a long exposure.

A number of panorama packages will let you handle moving people, if you can adjust the blend zone (or like photovista, they naturally use a small one.)

Hi Brad,

I just wondered if you were able to get some night pictures
of Mark's BRC art piece. I would love to see them. Some folks
have posted them on and there is one video over
on YouTube.COM though it's not that revealing.

Would love to see some shots that you might have taken.



ps. Hope you are well and that you find the bandaids that don't stick
to hair...

Is this Burning Man festival thing related to the old Santa Fe Zozobra? They burned a large effigy to fight off the seasonal doldrums.

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